Category: Business and Leadership

How to Deal with a Career Gaffe

It happens to all of us. We are moving too fast and we send an email the wrong person or a message that was supposed to be private is sent to a group chat. In my case, when I am moving too fast I quickly scan instead of carefully review what I am working on which produces terrible typos or missing important information in a document.

Too often my gaffes have torn down the professional reputation that I work hard to build up.

My first instinct might be to argue that my oversight does not matter, no one will really notice or I will be able to work through it.  My next instinct is to want to crawl under the covers and hate myself. Of course, not only is that not productive, it hurts a lot. Hating on yourself is an incredibly painful activity.

To pull myself out from the covers and move forward, I have developed a few other techniques to deal with my career gaffes, because no matter how good my intentions are, I know I will continue to commit them.

1.   Own it

I made a mistake, it is my mistake, I own it. I don’t try to blame others or the lighting, or that I was missing my glasses, or that someone else was supposed to do something else.

Whenever someone else makes a mistake and I see them running through all these excuses I feel like my time is being wasted with reasoning rather than results and my trust in that person begins to fade. Own it, apologize for it, and then fix it if you can.

You can turn a gaffe around by showing that you are coachable, that you are focused on results as opposed to your own ego and that you are easy to work with.

2.   Forgive Yourself

I may not be forgiven by those who were affected by my gaffe, but it is vital that I forgive myself. Sure, I still might call myself many harsh names and want to physically beat myself up but at the end of the day, but I have to find a way to forgive myself so that I can move forward. It does not matter if others don’t forgive me. They can walk away. However, I am not able to get away from myself.

3.  Learn from your Mistake

Why was this mistake made? This is not about finding excuses but finding reasons and figuring out what changes need to be made to keep this mistake from happening over and over again. More often than not the mistake is made because of a bad habit, such as my habit to move too fast or have multiple things going on at once. Habits are hard to break and most likely this was not the first time I made the mistake and will not be the last. Each time I have to remind myself why the mistake was made, feel the pain, and once again make a commitment to change my habits.

4.  Accept the Consequences

Some of my mistakes have cost me lots of money or my reputation or friends or the opportunity to work with really cool people. It sucks, it really does. I could wallow in the depression of what my mistake cost me or I could decide that I live in a very big world with lots of other cool people and opportunities and focus on finding out what might be next for me.

I accept the consequences but I don’t let the consequences stop me.

5.  Move On

Whether or not I lost anything from my gaffe, I am ready to move on. If I am still working with that client or team that was affected by the gaffe, I don’t bring it up again after I have apologized and fixed it. People have short memories and if I am not screwing up constantly they will forget it and all the good that I am working on will stay top of mind. If I don’t move on then I am just keeping the mistake top of mind, not only for those involved, but for myself as well, and that is only going to get me deeper in a hole full of career gaffes.

We are human and everyone makes mistakes. It is how you respond to your mistakes that will make or break you.

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Do Politics and Business Mix?

I was raised in a family where everyone said what they thought. My dad encouraged debate. My mom ignited debate. The best conversations I have had with my brothers were respectful debates.

When I started working in social media I was blogging about what I experienced, what I thought, what I believed. Many, well-meaning people in the business community told me I should not do that.

Over the years I have fought an internal battle of wanting to write about what I felt was important to talk about and wanting to be successful in business. After the 2016 election, I decided I needed to find my voice again. I am evolving into a political commentator as well as a business person.

I believe that for many reasons business and politics do mix.

Today, I had the opportunity to discuss that belief on my friend, Adrienne’s, podcast.

You can listen to it here.

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The Creative Life of a Freelancer

In one big sigh, I finally released all the frustration and disappointment I have been carrying around for several months. It caught my husband’s attention and with immediate concern, he asked,

“What’s wrong?”

“I just have so much to do.”

I am sure this confession was confusing to him. For months I have been acting like I have everything handled, things were slow but that was a good thing. I needed some downtime. Money was still flowing from other sources. In my mind, and from what he understood, I was doing what I wanted and needed to do.

But at that moment and all of a sudden, I was overwhelmed.

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No Boss, No Deadlines, No Commitments

I have been freelancing for 12 years now. My favorite thing about being a freelancer is the freedom to refresh my career.  I recently heard Satya Nadella on NPR talking about hitting refresh on Microsoft. He used the Internet browser as a great metaphor for what it means to refresh.

“The browser has this beautiful logic when you hit refresh on your browser. It doesn’t replace everything. It replaces only those pixels that need to be replaced. “

That is a perfect metaphor for refreshing a company, including one as small as a solopreneur.  I tend to hit refresh every year around this time. Some years I have replaced quite a few pixels. This year I am more focused on rearranging the pixels.

I can do this every year because I have no boss who needs to approve my decisions. I can take my time on implementing the changes, and if a change is not working out the way I thought it should I can pull back.

But last night, all at once, I saw how my pixels should be arranged. At the same time, I knew what I had to do to rearrange those pixels and I was all of a sudden overwhelmed.

Freelancer means being “a creative”

I think we all understand that the world of work is rapidly changing. Developers continuously introduce tools to automate tasks. Professionals are expected to increase the breadth of their expertise. An emerging generation with new ideas and assumed expertise are competing for work at lower rates.

When you are on your own, defining your offerings, seeking work, pricing your offerings, and delivering expertise, the world will change and pierce through everything you have built or think you know.

This is why I refresh every year. This is why being a freelancer means being “a creative.” If you are building your brand and offerings on fulfilling an obvious and existing need, you won’t last long out here in the wild. Like an artist, a freelancer has to look for the connections that other people miss. A freelancer has to have a vision of where they would like their industry to go. A successful freelancer has to have a desire to make a mark on this world, if not a ding in the universe.

My favorite definition of a brand comes from Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That means your personal brand has to be interesting enough for someone to say something about you. You have to stand out. To achieve sales you have to stay top of mind. To keep clients you have to remain the expert, navigating through the rough waters of change.

That means to be a freelancer is to be “a creative.” To live the pain and sufferings of a creative. To wallow in the doubts and darkness the way that creatives do.

And to emerge with a new vision and an urgent and overwhelming need to get to work.

Related Articles:

Do You Have What It Takes to be a Freelancer?

A Vacation Everyone Should Take

Are You Really that Busy?

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It’s Time For a Freelancer (R)evolution

In the 2+ decades I have been working, freelancers have always played an important role in providing expertise or filling in talent gaps for organizations. There are a number of benefits that come with hiring a freelancer including keeping headcount down and reduce payroll to having access to unique expertise with a vast amount of experience.

There are many benefits to being a freelancer as well such as flexibility and taking control of your career path.

However, the downside to both organizations and freelancers is the fact that many hands-woman-legs-laptop.jpgfreelancers work alone. They are responsible for sales and marketing, accounting, project or account management, keeping their skills up to date, and the specific tasks they were hired to do.

My experiences of being a freelancer and managing freelancers sparked an idea of how we can keep all the great things about freelancing while easing the struggles that come from working alone.

Amplified Concepts is a freelancer community where the expertise of individuals are highlighted, a community of freelancers gather, and dedicate teams come together to learn from each other, collaborate, and share resources.

If you would like to know how you can be a part of this (r)evolution, contact me.

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Life Without Social Media

I love this time of the year when I  am able to slow down and spend time with friends and family and watch a few of my favorite movies. One of my all-time favorite movies is It’s a Wonderful Life.
As I watched that movie this year I could not help but think about the lessons the movie offers and how they apply to some of the struggles that I witnessed this past year. By reflecting on the journey and the positive changes that have occurred because of the journey, we can gather our strength and look forward to a positive future.
This year there have been lots of stories about how Social Media channels have been hijacked by various greedy, misguided, nasty, hateful people and how it has been overwhelmed by automated bots. Trying to stay on a positive and authentic course can feel like a losing battle sometimes. But when we reflect on the positive outcomes of that course we are renewed for that battle. With that in mind, I adapted the story of It’s a Wonderful Life with social media as the hero of the story titled, “It’s a Wonderfully Connect Life”  posted on Linkedin.
I hope you enjoy it. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.

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Is Social Media the cause of a decline in human to human authentic engagement?

Lots of stories are being posted about the downfall of society with social media to blame.

It is not the platform that is to blame but how we have decided to use them. In my article, How Social Media Became its Own Worse Enemy – and How to Improve It, I discuss what we might be doing wrong, what the fallout could look like, and how we can get real again.

Time to Upgrade

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Do You Have What It Takes to be a Freelancer?

I have been on my own since 2005. It is a rollercoaster ride. At one point I considered getting off the ride and joining a company. That would be sacrificing the flexibility I had been enjoying. I spoke with my son about it. He asked me why I was considering a “real job.” I explained that I would like a steady paycheck. His response was “I know that money gets tight sometimes, but when you are rich, you are really rich!”

I laughed and decided what I really need to do is manage my money, time, and activities to achieve the stability I was seeking. In my article, Top 5 Ways to Survive as a Freelancer, I highlight a few practices that have worked for me.


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